Sunday, January 3, 2010

Syllabus Spring 2010

JOU 2100 News Reporting
Instructor: Ann Hellmuth

Contact info:

Class hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 2.50 p.m. COM211

Office hours: I will be available before and after classes and you can always email me for advice.

Homework and tips are posted on

Credits: 3 credits.

Textbook: Reporting For the Media, by Fred Fedler, ninth edition.

Bring your textbook and a flash drive to every class.

Purpose: To introduce you to the craft of news reporting, the fundamental skill upon which all of journalism is based. After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

Use language correctly.
Be accurate.
Work under and respect deadlines.
Recognize, gather and assemble news into a readable form.
Use the Internet to access public records, verify information and develop story ideas.
Write the kinds of basic news stories for print and online that reporters tackle every day: briefs, news releases, news conferences, interviews with newsmakers, speeches and meetings, obituaries, brights and features.

Requirements: Accuracy, attendance and respect for deadlines.

Accuracy: Because accuracy is the No. 1 priority of professional journalists and the readers of their work it is heavily emphasized in this
class. It is imperative that you care enough to keep your work free of avoidable errors. Stories containing a serious factual error or a misspelled proper name will result in a warning on the first offense. Afterwards, a story that contains these kinds of spelling errors will get an automatic F. Be sure to verify the spelling of names with a second reliable source.

For exercises from the textbook, consult the city directory in the back of the book. To show that you have verified a name’s spelling draw a box around the name every time it appears in the story.

Attendance: Your attendance is vital, especially since this is a skills course and the foundational course in the journalism major and the magazine minor at UCF. I will take roll at the start of each class. You are allowed two absences during the semester. If you miss more than the equivalent of two class periods I will reduce your overall course grade by one letter. If you attend only part of a class (you skip out at the break) you will only get credit for half the class.
If you are absent from class you will not be able to make up any of the assignments or quizzes due during that class and will take a zero. The only exceptions to this rule will be the following:

1. If your absence is due to an official university-sponsored
activity. In that case your sponsor must provide me with
advance written notice that you will not be in class.

2. You have registered with the student disabilities office and
you present me with a letter from the office at the
beginning of the term requesting accommodation.

3. Your absence is due to your observance of a recognized
religious holiday. You must notify me in advance.

If you are hospitalized, experience a death in your family or you’re summoned to jury duty. You must contact me in advance and provide documentation (doctor’s note, funeral program/obituary or jury summons) the next time you come to class. People occasionally get sick or have car trouble that causes them to miss a class. I make allowances for that by letting students drop one zero on a quiz or in-class assignment at the end of the term.

Assignments: News reporting is a skill that is learned by doing. There will be frequent exercises and assignments. Some will be for practice; others for a grade. Story assignments should be typed and double-spaced, with your name, slug (story name and date ex: WRITE08) and date in the upper left corner.

Deadlines: A cardinal rule of journalism is making deadline. News organizations are serious about them – so are we. Assignments are due at class time. I do not accept late assignments. If you experience one of the emergencies mentioned above I will extend your deadline. Otherwise, your assignments are due at class time.

Sources: News stories are based on information provided by sources. You should strive to provide the most qualified and authoritative sources for your stories. That means interviewing people who know the most about the subject of your story: experts, eyewitnesses, participants or credible spokesmen and women. Do not use roommates, co-workers, friends or other acquaintances as sources. It’s lazy, unethical and real reporters don’t do it.

Grades: Because this is a skills course you will learn primarily by doing – over and over. There will be frequent graded assignments, quizzes and tests. All of them will be worth a certain number of points. At the end of the term, I will add up your points. If you have 90 percent or more of the total points, you will receive an A; 80 percent or more, a B; 70 percent or more, a C; 60 percent or more, a D; and 59 percent or below, an F.

Borderline grades (defined as 59.1-59.9, 69.1-69.9, 79.1-79.9, 89.1-89.9) are eligible to be bumped up to the next higher grade, depending on your level of engagement and participation during the semester. Note: A minimum grade of “C’’ in this class is a prerequisite for advanced reporting and editing courses. I don’t use pluses or minuses.
Stories: 100 - 150 points

Assignments: 10-50 points

Quizzes/tests: 10-100 points

Final Feature story: 100 points

Published story: 100 points, Additinal stories 50 points extra credit

Grading criteria:
90-100: A
89-80: B
79-70: C
69-60: D
59-50: F

Quizzes: Frequent quizzes will be given in class. The quizzes will be on the assigned reading and current events. You should assume that you will probably be quizzed on each assigned chapter. News quizzes will be on Mondays, unless noted otherwise, and will cover prominent news events from the previous week. Therefore, you should make it a habit to regularly read the New York Times, USA Today, the Orlando Sentinel and the Central Florida Future. The quizzes will usually have about 10 questions.

Why news quizzes? Two reasons:
To help you learn to recognize news, develop news judgment and become more aware of the world around you.
Reporters can’t inform others if they are not informed.

Published story: To encourage journalism students to begin working on their portfolios, all students in the class are required to have a story published during this term by the Central Florida Future. You must give me an original of the clip and it must contain your byline and a date of publication.Your story must be published and you must give me your clip by APRIL 16, 2010. PLEASE, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. YOU CANNOT GET EVEN A C GRADE WITHOUT A PUBLISHED STORY.

The published article must be a news story (no reviews, opinion columns or letters to the editor). You must do some actual reporting.
It must be a minimum of 300 words and contain three sources.
Cheating: The School of Communication’s Journalism Division adheres to the Code of Ethics adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists. Journalism is a limited-access program, and students who violate the code – who plagiarize or fabricate, for example – will be dropped from the program. At faculty members’ discretion, violations of the code – or of UCF’s Golden Rule – also may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

How your stories will be graded:
A (Excellent)

Story is newsworthy, exceptionally well written, thorough, free of errors.
The lead is clear, concise, interesting and emphasizes the news (the latest,
most interesting, unusual or important details).
Body is well organized and contains effective transitions, quotations,
descriptions and anecdotes. The story requires little editing.
The story is based on information from a variety of authoritative sources.
Because of the story’s obvious merit editors would be eager to publish it.

B (Good)
Story could be published after minimal editing.
The lead summarizes the story accurately but could be more interesting.
Following paragraphs are reasonably well organized.
Story could be more interesting, thorough or cohesive.
Story contains a few (2-3) style, spelling or grammatical errors.
Story is based on information from at least two sources.

C (Average)
Story is superficial or could be published only after extensive editing.
Lead is too wordy or may fail to emphasize the news.
Story is disorganized.
Story contains several (3-5) style, spelling or grammatical errors.
A few sentences or paragraphs have to be rewritten because they are too
long, awkward, wordy, passive or confusing.
The story is based on a single source.

D (Poor)
Story is superficial or requires extensive rewriting and editing.
Story contains numerous (5 or more) style, spelling and grammatical
Story is of questionable newsworthiness.
The story is based on weak sources (little or no authority or credibility).
Story could not be published without extensive rewriting.

F (Fails)
Story could not be published nor easily rewritten because it is too
confusing, incomplete or inaccurate.
Story contains a misspelled name or other serious factual error.

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